August 11, 2014

Throw Down Your Arms

On the morning of April 19, 1775, British troops marched into Lexington, Massachusetts.  They were met by a small group of patriots on the village green.  The minutemen were armed and ready to protect their homes and families.  While it is true that their guns were used for hunting food and for protection, they also kept weapons handy in case they had to stop tyranny in its tracks.  That is why they could not, and would not obey the command to throw down their arms.

It is not up to me to do your research for you.  I have done a more than adequate amount to be able to tell you that the following is reliable and has a common thread among those who possess spiritual insight. After the British had sent a volley or more of shot into those good men, eight of them lay dead, with others wounded.  Some of them were shot in the back, since their own leader had ordered them to disperse.


Almost all the dead and wounded were members of the church, and their pastor, Jonas Clark, had stood with them in the midst of the brief conflict.  Caleb Harrington was shot dead on the steps of the church.  He was going back into the meeting house to get more powder, since that is where it was stored.  The primary edifice on the green was the church building, so the fight had taken place in front of the church.  Clark had repeatedly warned his flock about the coming danger to their freedom and liberty from the tyranny they faced.  His own diary is a record of what took place in the pulpits and other small communities as well as his own.

In 1864, J. T. Headley wrote of the broad involvement of clergy and believers in the events that lead to the Revolution.  His book was entitled The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution.  The book was first published by Charles Scribner of New York. Headley identified a long list of pastors who personally and publicly opposed the tyranny of the king.  They fully understood the responsibility of the believer to obey constituted authority as God’s rule, but they also understood that life, liberty, and freedom were gifts from God. 

The involvement of the clergy in energizing the coming conflict did not include the loyalists of the Church of England who were, by duty of the church, bound to the king. The Quakers were pacifists and therefore opposed any fighting.  There were others who opposed the coming conflict, but the record indicates that the number of these dissenters was smaller.  The Colonial army was made up of local militias; and since the pastor was often the only professional in town, in many cases he led the men of his parish into battle. Like it or not, these are the general facts behind that great event known as the American Revolution.


I will let you do your own study on the above.  There are hundreds of books on the subject.  There are some who feel that their action had been wrong and that the patriots sinned in what they did.  Often these individuals fail to fully study the wrongful actions of the king which brought this separation.  There are others who have gone to the scriptures to demonstrate that the separatists were wrong.  What I have found, however, is that in almost every case these writers have limited their view to a few proof texts without reflecting on the whole of this teaching.

Any serious student of this issue will want to read Headley’s book.  It is now published as the Forgotten Heroes of Liberty by Solid Ground Christian Books of Birmingham, AL.

The current issue of the World Magazine, published in Ashville, North Carolina, has an article worth your reading.  Rod D. Martin writes “Was the American Revolution sinful”? Not only does he cite the Bible texts where the legitimate authority must be obeyed, but he is careful to look at the scriptures that deal with exceptions.  No thinking person could believe that all laws made by temporal authority are to be obeyed. For instance, you would not obey a law that said your wife must abort a baby if she already had two children.  Martin also deals with the issue of constituted authority and what happens when authority breaks its covenant with the people.

Finally, there is the continuing debate over the doctrine of the “right of revolution” when constituted authority is replaced by tyranny.  I leave you on your own with this one.


My own doctoral dissertation was abridged and printed some years ago.  It has recently been republished by Faithful Life Publishers of North Fort Myers, FL, under the title The Coming Conflict.  This is the heart of the issue.  What does the entire Bible teach about this subject?  While all the records of history may only provide some of the facts, the Bible is crystal clear on the relationship between the church and state.  This is not a political issue; it is a theological issue, so secular views have to take a back seat.

Now our nation stands on the verge of an internal conflict.  Tyranny rules the administration, the courts, and public opinion.  The unlearned on the right tend to be too quick to respond.  The academic community has rewritten the rules.  The left has given credence and support to those who want biblical Christianity removed from the fabric of our country.  Where does that leave you?  I suggest you read, study, pray, and get ready to obey God.

Shepherd's Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min

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  1. This is a difficult subject. I noticed however, that brother Nuttall didn't talk about the theology of the men and churches he is largely referring to, along with the relationship between these churches and the state. MA great many were Calvinists, and we could probably add the adjectives "Reconstructionist" along with "Puritan." A great many also held a positive view of the church-state relationship in Geneva under the influence of Calvin, and and followed that pattern in America. I was once a "Reconstructionist" non-Calvinist until I better understood the theology upon which Reconstructionism was based (i.e. Calvinism). Doug Phillips, former leader of Vision Forum, a Reconstructionist Calvinist, once wrote that he believed that Calvin was the true father of America because the influence of his teachings upon the church and state which lead to the mindset that helped lead to the Revolution. I don't remember all my history, but I believe Baptists/Anabaptists like myself, and which many fundamentalist Baptists claim as "ancestors" so to speak, were often persecuted to some degree by these folks and quite possibly weren't welcome in Lexington at that time (which was largely a Puritan parish governed to a great degree by Jonas Clark and the church).

    I've also heard, but can't confirm, that there are a few studies which concluded that the large-scale rebellion against authority we see today had roots in the mindset that led to the Revolution.

    After I learned more about the churches of that day and the close church-state relationship and the influence of Calvinist Reconstructionist thought upon "Christians" of that era (I believe the Calvinist Gospel is a false Gospel) I'm not quite the "Revolutionist" I once was and am now very cautious about "nationalism" since as a Christian I know I'm not truly a citizen of any earthly nation.

  2. P.S. The author mentions the book "The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution" which I've never read but the title says a lot. Many of the Chaplains and Clergy of that era were paid by the "state" or local government. They also had developed a professional clergy class and church government which I personally don't believe were entirely Biblical. Many churches today still follow those patterns and can't seem to break free from those traditions.

    1. Scott:

      Dr. Nuttall has offered this reply to your comments above.

      "Scott, you are correct on several things and your discussion is helpful. The article was meant to describe the historical events since so much writing left out the role of the clergy and the church. Both Luther and Calvin claimed to have returned to a normal literal interpretation of scripture but they failed as you have pointed out. I am familiar with their theories as well as the Reconstructionist. Including the leaders of that movement today. The article, as all those in Shepherds Staff are there to promote thinking. There was not enough room to discuss the theological issue. As for what the scripture actually states about church and state that is clearly stated in my book "The Coming Conflict." I am not here to approve everything the Patriots did. I am here move people back to the biblical text for the truth about this subject. I will say that the idea passed around among Evangelicals and Fundamentalist that Sheep and Shepherds are to be silent about what is going on in public is pure nonsense. That should start a good discussion. That is my task."

  3. Not to digress the topic too much, but adding a Baptist flavor to it. The three volumes of This Day in Baptist History by the late Dr. David Cummins have much in them concerning the Baptist involvement in the founding of our nation, even on the point of Baptist chaplains in the Revolutionary armies.
    It also does us well to actually read the entire Declaration of Independence, not the introductory few sentences and the concluding sentences, that are so often read. The signers listed many acts of the government breaking their existing laws. Another book to recommend is, The Revolution Myth by Gene Fisher and Glen Chambers, published by BJU Press (not sure if it is still in print).

    1. I have and read through twice the first volume of This Day in Baptist History. A blessing to read of our Baptist fore fathers influence in the founding of this great constitutional republic.